The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), often called the bible of psychology, lists every official psychological disorder and includes the criteria for each disorder. It is published by the American Psychological Association (APA), “a scientific and professional organization that represents psychologists in the United States.”
Rather than focus on the experience of each disorder, the DSM exists to allow standardized* diagnosis and classification of human psychological disorders. Because psychological understanding evolves and improves (hopefully) over time, the DSM is updated as needed. The current version, published in 2000, is the DSM-IV-TR. (The “TR” stands for “text revision,” since the changes between the DSM-IV and the DSM-IV-TR were primarily related to language.) A new version of the DSM, The DSM-5, will be released this May. While you may not find yourself particularly concerned with the new DSM, The Anxiety-Free Child explains why changes can be so important:
“Although the DSM does not outline how anxiety in children or other specific conditions should be treated, it does outline what counts as an official disorder and how the disorder is classified. Classifications and definitions of mental health disorders play a huge part when it comes to insurance coverage as well as qualifications for treatment and services offered by mental health professionals, schools and other agencies.
“In other words, if you or your child’s mental health issue no longer has a valid label as per the DSM or your symptoms no longer meet the specifically defined criteria, you may no longer be eligible for treatments and coverage.”
Read The Anxiety-Free Child’s Guide to DSM-5 for a complete explanation of the upcoming changes to the DSM, including the controversial removal of Asperger’s!
*to the extent that qualitative, subjective illnesses can be standardized
Note: Fearless Learning is not affiliated with The Anxiety-Free Child and does not endorse their program. Nor do we disaprove of the program…we just don’t have an official stance at this time beyond saying you should read the above article.
Coming soon: what are the merits of labels, anyway?